Musika Canter Supports Eco-Charcoal Producers

In Zambia, like elsewhere, most rural communities heavily rely on forests for both their income and livelihoods. Forests provide them with food, medicine, shelter, wood and wood fuels.

Apart from using forest products to meet their own needs, rural communities continue to utilise opportunities provided by urban demand for forest products such as charcoal to generate income.

However, it is often difficult for most rural based traders to transport their produce for sale to most urban centres. Due to a lack of transport and a need to quickly sell their products, rural traders are often cowed into selling their products at a cheaper price to urban commuters, who later sell these products at a higher price in town.

BioCarbon Partners is currently implementing community based livelihood projects among rural households in Rufunsa District, as part of the Lower Zambezi REDD+ (LZRP). The aim of these projects is to sustainably address local drivers of deforestation in the short and long term, by providing meaningful alternatives to deforestation-dependent livelihoods and reducing poverty.

Since 2012, BCP has been piloting an Eco-Charcoal Project in Rufunsa District. This project is identified as having some of the most potential to directly and meaningfully address unsustainable charcoal production as a local driver of deforestation. The Eco-Charcoal project encourages the implementation of sustainable harvesting plans on community forests, adoption of improved-efficiency kilns, and market development and access for sustainably produced charcoal, which allows BCP to pay higher prices to producers of sustainably produced “eco” charcoal.

The Eco-Charcoal project is designed to benefit rural producers by providing higher “incentive” payments for sustainably produced charcoal, and is designed to benefit the wider community by promoting sustainable natural resource management in an area with one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, which is largely driven by unsutainable charcoal production.

One of the key interventions of the Eco-Charcoal project is the creation of new markets for sustainable, community produced products, and assisting producers to access new markets for sustainably produced goods.

In 2013, Musika graciously donated a canter truck to BioCarbon Partners Trust, in order to facilitate community access to new markets for sustainably produced Eco-Charcoal. Since then, the canter has continued to play an important role in allowing rural producers of Eco-Charcoal to access new markets, and allowing the business model for the project to continue.

“The Musika Canter plays a huge role in the Eco-Charcoal project, allowing BioCarbon Partners Trust to buy sustainably produced charcoal from rural producers, and sell their product for a higher price in town. The higher prices gained from urban sales is shared with rural producers, creating an incentive for rural producers to produce charcoal in a sustainable way,” explains Lauren Masey, a Peace Corps volunteer placed with BCP.

Since 2013, the canter has facilitated the development of Eco-Charcoal and other community enterprises. “The canter has helped in the transportation of charcoal and beehives. Easy access to urban markets for community produce has come with increased production. Previously we could only manage to transport 18 to 25 bags of charcoal but the coming of the canter has seen our transportation increase from 40 to 100 bags,” adds Agness Kanunguna, a Musika intern placed with BCP.

To date, the Musika canter has facilitated the sales of over 240 90Kg size bags of Eco-Charcoal bringing rural producers an estimated 13,000 ZMK of income since 2014. The canter has also transported supplies for other sustainable livelihoods projects supported by BCP, for example, the canter was used to transport hives that were donated to support a Honey production project in 2014, under a VIGOR grant from USAID.

BCP is currently exploring other possible models for improving rural producers’ access to new markets, as a means of breaking down transportation as a barrier to the development of sustainable enterprise in rural communities.

BCP is very grateful to have a partner like Musika, who have given communities the opportunity to reach far away markets and improve their livelihoods. Musika has been an important partner of BCP in Rufunsa district since the beginning of the LZRP in 2012. We look forward to continuing to partner with Musika as our REDD+ activities expand into new areas under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) in the coming years.


BCP team members welcome the Musika canter in 2013, at the Musika offices, where BCP’s original office was located!

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Unsustainably produced charcoal is produced illegally in rural areas, and transported illegally. Rural households often face few commercial alternatives, especially due to the difficulty of transporting products. Often, charcoal trucks are the only trucks that reach very rural areas.


Eco-Charcoal project participants in 2015 stand by a higher-efficiency cassamance kiln in the Ndubulula pilot site, in Rufunsa.


BCP and Musika representatives stand by bags sustainably produced Eco-Charcoal, awaiting collection by the canter.


United States Supports Zambian Community Forests Program

In the recent U.N. Climate Summit in New York in September 2014, more than 125 heads of state and government resoundingly demonstrated the rapidly converging global consensus that the impacts of climate change are real and costly, and that they no longer have to choose between economic growth and climate action—they go hand-in-hand.

The world loses more than 13 million hectares of forests each year.  When we destroy forests, we eliminate one of our most potent natural carbon sequestration technologies. Millions could be spent developing extravagant artificial technologies to sequester carbon, but they wouldn’t come close to the efficiency or elegance of a forest.  The reason is simple; Trees “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “exhale” oxygen.

Through the award of a cooperative agreement to BioCarbon Partners (BCP) to implement the Community Forests Program (CFP) in Zambia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is taking a leadership role in harnessing the sequestration potential of preserving the world’s remaining intact forests.

USAID is the principal arm of the United States Government offering economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to more than 80 partner-countries, such as Zambia, and the citizens of those countries.

The CFP is the flagship activity of the USAID mission in Zambia’s Global Climate Change (GCC) project under the Presidential GCC Initiative. It is designed to exemplify and support the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s (GRZ) Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) strategy by establishing the largest REDD+ program to-date in the country. The CFP is a 5 year, $14 million program implemented jointly with the Forestry Department and the Zambia Wildlife Authority.

CFP activities will be primarily based in Lusaka, Eastern and/or Muchinga Provinces, and will focus on establishing REDD+ project areas across a minimum of 700,000 hectares within the Zambezi and Luangwa ecosystems. In total, the CFP aims to undertake community livelihood and deforestation mitigation activities taking place on a total of up to 2 million hectares and involving up to 10,000 households. Across project target areas, the CFP aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, reduce poverty, and conserve biodiversity values.

BioCarbon Partners is proud to partner with USAID to address the challenges and opportunities of implementing this exciting project and to work together to carry out a common strategy for engaging communities, improving forest-compatible livelihoods that involve job creation, making community- based livelihoods more productive, and achieving more sustainable land management practices.


Stakeholder consultation meeting about the Community Forests Program takes place in Luembe Chiefdom, in Nyimba District, led by representatives from the Government, BCP, USAID, and involving participation of Traditional Authorities, Community Resource Board members and key community representatives.

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Significant areas of community-owned forests exist in Eastern Province, Zambia, but they are threatened by high rates of deforestation caused by agricultural pressures, a growing population and demand for charcoal as an energy source.



Habitat within Game Management Areas is intended to be managed and protected by local communities and the Government. Forest areas within GMAs provide important habitat for wildlife, such as the rare Thornicroft’s Giraffe, which is endemic to the Luangwa Valley.



The Senior Community Engagement Manager for the CFP guides community stakeholders in Nyimba District through an informational comic about REDD+, as part of the Sensitization program for the CFP, which takes place in line with the principles of obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).



Participatory mapping takes place in Rufunsa District, led by the local District Commissioner, to identify new areas of forest that may be viable for REDD+ implementation, under the CFP.


The CFP builds upon the work that BCP has begun at the pilot Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP), taking place in Rufunsa District. BCP’s REDD+ model places a strong focus on community engagement, and supporting livelihoods interventions that promote sustainable natural resource management, provide viable alternatives to deforestation-dependent lifestyles, reduce local poverty and improve quality of life.


This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Small Scale Farmer Benefits from Conservation Farming

A visibly excited Absalom Mwale assertively tours his 12 hectares maize field. Taking a close look at his maize stock, it is easy for one to see that it has been a very good farming season for Mwale, a father of three children. “This year’s farming season has been productive owing to very good field preparations and most importantly Conservation Farming (CF) methods,” explains Mwale.

The complete truth behind Mwale’s productive yield lies in his decision to take part in a Conservation Training Program. Two years ago, Mwale was among the lucky farmers from Ndubulula Zone, Rufunsa district to be trained in conservation farming through BCP’s Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP), through a program that was funded by a generous VIGOR grant from USAID. He now continues to receive support through the USAID funded Community Forests Program (CFP), taking place in Rufunsa District.

“I am lucky to be among those trained in conservation farming. Conservation farming allows you to prepare your land early, there is less weeding required, it is cost effective as it requires minimum fertilizer,” observes Mwale.

This year’s farming season has seen Mwale dedicate another portion of his field towards conservation farming. “I have decided to increase a part of my maize field for conservation farming from one (1) hectare to two (2) hectares amounting to over 26000 basins. I have also set aside a one (1) hectare piece of land where I have planted groundnuts using the ripping type of CF,” adds Mwale.

Despite a poor rain season Mwale expects a very good yield. “This year’s rain season was not too good but I am positive we will have a bumper harvest because of CF. I have also planted groundnuts, cotton, sweet potatoes, okra and peanut peas.”

Apart from receiving training in conservation farming, Mwale is also a beneficiary of the Village Chicken Project (VCP). He has been trained in small-scale businesses and village chicken production.

Having received two (2) chickens, Mwale has seen this number remarkably increase to 25. “In future, I intend to use manure from the chicken for conservation farming. I have mostly been using fertilizer and goat manure.”

Absalom Mwale inspects his maize field accompanied by Agnes Kanunguna, a Musika intern placed with BCP.

Absalom Mwale inspects his maize field accompanied by Agnes Kanunguna, a Musika intern placed with BCP.